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‘Greenham’ has a ‘math nerd romance’

Professors Robin Cunningham and Linda Green sit outside of Hanes Hall. Cunningham, a lecturer in the Department of Statistics & Operations Research, and Green, a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics, have been married for 25 years.
Professors Robin Cunningham and Linda Green sit outside of Hanes Hall. Cunningham, a lecturer in the Department of Statistics & Operations Research, and Green, a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics, have been married for 25 years.

Linda Green, a lecturer in mathematics, and Robin Cunningham, a lecturer in statistics and operations research, have been married for 25 years.

The nickname Greenham, created by combining the lecturers’ last names, was inspired by Dr. Seuss’s book, “Green Eggs and Ham.”

The two met in the summer of 1986 while teaching math to middle school students through the supplemental education program Duke University Talent Identification Program.

Green had graduated high school, and Cunningham was entering his senior year at UNC.

“It’s where math nerd romance happens,” Cunningham said.

Green said while they were dating, she lived in Chicago, and he lived in Ann Arbor, Mich.

There was a train from Detroit to Chicago, so they’d visit each other on weekends.

“It was a romance by train for sure,” Cunningham said. “I got most of my homework in graduate school done on that train.”

Green earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago, where she received the University of Chicago Paul Cohen Award for best undergraduate mathematics major in 1990.

After graduating, she and Cunningham got married in her parents’ living room.

Together, they’ve lived in New Jersey, California and North Carolina, and have taught at high schools, universities and colleges, including Princeton University, Dominican University of California and Mills College.

They have taught both together and separately.

Green and Cunningham began teaching at UNC two years ago in the fall semester of 2013.

Although they have been married for 25 years and have three children together, they said the majority of their students are not aware of their relationship because they don’t share the same last name and don’t work in the same department.

Cunningham and Green said they don’t see each other that much at work, but it is nice when they can get lunch together.

“We’re very lucky that we both have jobs at UNC, but I think the hardest part of working in similar fields is finding jobs that are geographically close to each other,” Green said.

Cunningham and Green said they appreciate having the same academic schedule because their vacation times align.

Sophomore Landon Larabee said he had Cunningham for two classes his first year and even house-sat for the couple last summer.

“The entire family seems very well educated, which I suspect comes from having two professors as parents,” Larabee said.

Larabee said he is from the small town of Ahoskie, N.C., and that talking with Cunningham at office hours helped him adjust to life at UNC.

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“They’re both very invested in their students,” Larabee said.

He said he asked Cunningham why his wife’s last name is Green.

“He said, ‘She was famous long before me.’”

@cbangbang

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